Verizon explains 4G outages: Parsing the IT failure transparency

Verizon explains 4G outages: Parsing the IT failure transparency

Summary: Verizon's explanation of its recent 4G outages leaves out a lot of detail that would have offered customers more transparency.

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Technology failure rule No. 1 is that when everything hits the fan you need to outline how a project went wrong and what's being done to fix it. For good measure, outages should include an apology.

With that rule as a backdrop it was interesting to read Verizon's explanation of its Long-Term Evolution 4G outages of late. I have an LTE device and frankly it seems like the service has been down more than up. Let's parse Verizon's statement:

Verizon says:

The Verizon Wireless 4GLTE Network is BY FAR the largest and the most advanced 4GLTE wireless network in the world. It is available in 190 US markets and covers more than 200 million people, providing the fastest 4G Network in the US.

Being a pioneer comes with growing pains. The recent issues that affected our customers’ 4GLTE service were unforeseen despite careful, diligent planning, deployment and ongoing upgrade programs.

I say: I didn't realize I was a guinea pig for your pioneering network. I just wanted the service to run. You instantly sound defensive. Outages happen, but don't tell us you have the best LTE network on the planet when you have an outage every week.

Verizon says:

Problems customers experienced affected connectivity to the 4GLTE Network and data service. Several times, we have proactively “moved” 4GLTE customers onto our 3G Network to ensure all would have a data connection. For brief periods, such as on Wednesday (12/28), 4GLTE customers could not connect to the 3G Network as quickly as we would have liked.

Nonetheless, we estimate that 4GLTE connectivity has been available approximately 99 percent of the time this year.

I say: How about another .9 there because that 1 percent of downtime stinks? What's the 3G uptime?

Verizon says:

Why have these issues occurred with our 4GLTE Network? Each incident has been different from a technical standpoint. Our engineers have successfully diagnosed those past triggering events, and they have not re-occurred. We also work diligently to rectify technical problems in the Network before they affect any customers.

Our 3G and 1X Networks continue to reliably process calls, texts and data for customers with 3G devices and, when necessary, 4GLTE devices. It continues to perform at the high level that established it as the nation’s largest and most reliable 3G Network.

I say: This sounds like a network held together by rubber bands. More detail on the triggers needed. In fact, it's alarming that LTE is down given the network isn't being taxed that much due to a slower customer adoption curve. Offloading to 3G isn't much of a comfort since I paid a premium for 4G.

Verizon says:

We are taking a number of steps, working closely with our network suppliers, to ensure the integrity of our 4GLTE Network. We continue to fortify and improve its performance, and our goal is that our 4GLTE Network meets the same high standards that our 3G Network has set for performance and reliability.

I say: Time to start poking around on the network suppliers on the LTE network. What vendors are screwing up?

Verizon says:

Among the numerous measures we have taken or will take are: geographic segmentation, which enables us to isolate, contain and rectify network performance issues, and maintain service to the majority of customers when an issue does develop; and software fixes that we have developed, tested and applied regularly – and will continue to do so. Both will improve performance and reliability.

I say: So it's a software issue. A little more color on redundancy would be nice here.

Verizon says:

We will not rest until our 4GLTE network performs at the very highest levels that our customers have come to expect from us.

I say: That last paragraph in the statement should have been first.

Topics: Verizon, Mobility, Networking, Outage

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14 comments
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  • RE: Verizon explains 4G outages: Parsing the IT failure transparency

    99 percent uptime means that a people would experience a total 3.65 days of outage a year. Is this level of downtime acceptable for a utility such as Verizon? I think not.
    dkusnetzky
  • still no 4g

    I live in Washington DC and work in Bethesda MD, two very solid 4g areas. My Verizon Hotspot at work and home has never been below 8mbps (that I've noticed) and usually between 10 and 12. Since the outage two weeks ago I could randomly pick up 4g. Since yesterday's outage I've had no 4g at all, it stays on 3g all the time. Resets have had no impact. I'm bouncing between 1.2 and 1.5 download.

    I'm still waiting for this "fix".
    oneleft
  • RE: Verizon explains 4G outages: Parsing the IT failure transparency

    As an iPhone 4S user on AT&T, this is the best article ever to end the year.
    Bates_
  • RE: Verizon explains 4G outages: Parsing the IT failure transparency

    I tried the Hotspot and was not impressed and returned it. I kept my DSL with not data limits and much higher reliability. The guys at Best Buy didn't believe me and even tested it on their computers and agreed with me that it was slower than DSL.
    Tundra Gregg
  • Verizon doesn't care

    In addition to the data outage, the cell tower closest to my hosue had been having difficulties from 12/9-12/27. I couldn't make outgoing calls and incoming would drop frequently during that period. While Verizon's explanation above was a general public release, if you actually call about the data outage (or any outage) and complain, you may face THIS explanation (which I did, from 3 different reps, including their tech support):

    "Verizon does NOT guarantee any coverage of any sort for any customer of itswireless service, because the service is a 'radio' service. In fact, no other wireless company in the WORLD (emphasis) offers any type of guarantee what-so-ever."

    Their next talking point was "Verizon would only issue a refund to customers for a service disruption if a customer's handset had 0 minutes of signal connection for a full, un-interrupted 24-hour period. And, for the refund to be offered to be offered, we would need a network ticket that shows you called and we sent a technician to your location."

    Like I said, I received those responses from 3 different people. A customer service rep, a technical support rep, and a customer loyalty rep.

    Verizon really doesn't care.
    e_blind81@...
    • RE: Verizon explains 4G outages: Parsing the IT failure transparency

      I had the same response from them and am tired of the arrogance of verizon. I am constantly losing my data connection. This must be addressed. Anyone readign this shoudl flood verizon with complaints, tweets calls, email or whatever until they realize the magnitude of the backlash!
      Fitzgerald317
      • RE: Verizon explains 4G outages: Parsing the IT failure transparency

        @Fitzgerald317, DSL will help you much better than a backlash.
        ForeverSPb
  • I have to laugh a bit: I didn???t realize I was a guinea pig for your

    pioneering network.

    Funny how so many things get a pass for not working as expected, and 99% uptime is fine for a guinea pig and everyone else, except when it happens to you.

    Then 99% uptime is unexceptable. ;)
    William Farrel
  • RE: Verizon explains 4G outages: Parsing the IT failure transparency

    Over a period of 2 weeks after I upgraded to a 4G LTE Motorola Droid RAZR (from the DroidX), Verizon company reps, local as well as VZW technical support, refused to admit there was a widespread problem, with the exception of "one day of spotty 4G service with some outages."

    Actually, it was after a week of flawless, blazing service, that I suddenly had little to no 4G LTE connectivity (and when I did, also had no 3G - no data connectivity whatsoever, just cell & SMS service). Eventually, while tech support said it didn't seem like a hardware issue, a local store rep convinced me it must be the phone, and I swapped for another RAZR. Whether due to fortunate timing or some other contributing hardware issue, I have had a relatively consistent data connection since, although not always 4G, but at least 3G.
    Mike_Kunkle
  • RE: Verizon explains 4G outages: Parsing the IT failure transparency

    Folks just remember everyday you vote with your dollar; when you purchase a product or/and are paying for a service, basically your acknowledging your satisfaction for such. Verizon is a very arrogant company, with 200+ million subscribers. The only way to effect any change(s) will be a mass exodus of subscribers via la Netflix. Until then, you can sit there, whine and complain all you want. I really don't think Verizon cares about one thousand people cancelling their contract. From America most reliable network, Can you hear me now!!!!
    JunitoNH
  • RE: Verizon explains 4G outages: Parsing the IT failure transparency

    Folks just remember everyday you vote with your dollar; when you purchase a product or/and are paying for a service, basically your acknowledging your satisfaction for such. Verizon is a very arrogant company, with 200+ million subscribers. The only way to effect any change(s) will be a mass exodus of subscribers via la Netflix. Until then, you can sit there, whine and complain all you want. I really don't think Verizon cares about one thousand people cancelling their contract. From America most reliable network, Can you hear me now!!!!
    JunitoNH
  • RE: Verizon explains 4G outages: Parsing the IT failure transparency

    When 4G goes down, I never have any access at all - even 3G - until I enter some arcane menu on my Thunderbolt and force 3G only connectivity. This happens even in areas where this is NO 4G coverage! It takes me forever to figure out what the heck is going on - usually happens when I need it to work the most :/
    wendellgee2
  • RE: Verizon explains 4G outages: Parsing the IT failure transparency

    I know for a fact all three data outages included 3G...and that has been reported on mutiple boards not only my own experience.<br><br><br> <br><br><br>

    http://www.diolt.com
    webmasterdiolt@...
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